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Judge limited services in shutdown

Here’s the ruling from Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin: 

The Court agrees with the Governor that the following critical core functions of government should continue to be funded after June 30, 2011 even if there is no resolution of the present funding dispute between the executive and legislative branches:

1)        Basic custodial care for residents of state correctional facilities, regional treatment centers, nursing homes, veterans homes, and residential academics and other similar state-operated services.

2)          Maintenance of public safety and immediate public health concerns.

3)         Provision of benefit payments and medical services to individuals.

4)         Preservation of the essential elements of the financial system of the government.

5)         Necessary administration and supportive services, including by not limited to computer system maintenance, internet security, issuance of payments.

Other key findings:

Except for TANF programs, the child care assistance programs discussed in the memorandum of the amici Coalition of Child Care Providers and Supporters are not critical core function programs that would justify this Court in ordering funding despite the lack of legislative appropriations as required by Article XI.

Regulation of horse racing is not a core function of government.  The Court is granting the motion to intervene so that the Horsemen’s  Benevolent and Protective Association make seek emergency review by an appellate court.  

The appointment of a Special Master will help promote judicial economy and efficiency.  A Special Master creates an orderly process to resolve requests for, or objections to, funding, thereby preventing the necessity for multiple individual lawsuits to be filed and adjudicated. 

The Governor’s Statewide Contingency Response Team decided to recommend that the only critical core functions of the Minnesota Zoological Gardens arc feeding the animals, and keeping the animals, the exhibits, and the zoo property safe, secure, and healthy.  The Court agrees with that determination and also would add that it is necessary to fund whatever staff is necessary to make sure that none of the animals can escape and become a danger to the public.

The Court agrees that any part of a contract which keeps the bridge from collapsing does constitute a critical core function that needs to be funded. It does not agree that replacement of the bridge constitute a critical core function necessary to protect the life, health, and safety of its citizens.  A government shutdown may result in increased expenses for road projects that may be funded constitutionally in the future.

The court agrees with the position of the League of Minnesota Cities, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, and the City of St Paul regarding Local Government Aid legislation. These funds have already been lawfully appropriated and should be paid on schedule.

 The State of Minnesota has entered into agreements with the United States government to participate in a variety of programs, including, for example, the Food Stamp Program, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program, and the Medicaid Program. Under these agreements, continued participation in those programs is required once a State has agreed to participate.         

 The Senate and House (Legislative Branch) must be funded sufficiently to allow them to carry out  critical core functions necessary to draft, debate, publish, vote on and enact legislation.

The Honorable Kathleen Blatz, Retired Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, is hereby appointed as Special Master to hear and make recommendations  to the Court, as necessary, regarding any issue raised by Petitioner or others relating to the application of this Order.  The fees and expenses of the Special Master shall be paid by the State of Minnesota, the Commissioner of the Department of Management and Budget.  Expenses shall include the costs of whatever staff she deems necessary to fulfill her duties as a Special Master.  Information regarding how to set up a hearing before the Special Master will be made available as soon as possible on the State Court and Second Judicial District websites.

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